England v Ireland ODIs - Men's
England survive Irish scare after Bairstow blitz
England need a quickfire innings from their opener and an unbeaten seventh-wicket stand to get the better of Ireland
2 August 2020, 06:38 AM AEST
England have overcome a middle-order collapse to beat Ireland by four wickets in Southampton and take an unbeatable 2-0 lead in their three-match ODI series.
An Irish upset was on the cards when England slumped to 6-137 in pursuit of a victory target of 213, with left-armer Josh Little taking three wickets in six balls to put the World Cup winners on the back foot.
But an unbeaten 79-run stand in less than 15 overs between Sam Billings (46 not out) and David Willey (47 not out) secured victory with more than 17 overs to spare.
Earlier, opener Jonny Bairstow slammed 82 from just 41 balls – he reached his fifty in 21 deliveries, the joint-fastest by an England player - as the hosts reached 3-120 after only 15 overs.
Having elected to bat first, Ireland top order misfired again and they needed 68 from No.7 Curtis Campher – his second half-century in just his second game – to get over the 200 mark.
Ireland's innings stalled in the face of England's spinners, with Adil Rashid (3-34 from 10) and Moeen Ali (0-27 from eight) giving nothing away in the middle overs.
Ireland's batting woes were summed up by the dismissal of their skipper Andy Balbirnie, who gifted part-timer James Vince his first international wicket and just his third in 138 one-day games.
Vince was surprisingly called into the attack in the 12th over to bowl his medium pacers, but not even England skipper Eoin Morgan could have imagined the shock tactic would produce the wicket of his opposite number.
A short wide delivery from Vince should have been sent to the boundary but Balbirnie, seemingly caught between defence and attack, poked at the ball before trying to pull his bat away, the resultant edge offering Bairstow a simple catch behind the stumps.
From 6-91, Ireland recovered somewhat thanks to Campher and the tail, but a total of 9-212 from 50 overs was never going to be enough against the world champions.
Billings, who'd impressed in making an unbeaten 67 in the series opener, said he's looking to nail down a permanent spot in the middle order.
"The middle-order role is a very tough one," said Billings, who has benefitted in this series from the absence of Test trio Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler.
"You've got to be very adept, come in when you're three or four down early on and steady the ship similar to (the first game) or in the last five overs and everyone expects you to get 40 off 10 balls.
"It's a pretty tough role, but one that I'm looking forward to making my own, really. Morgs (Morgan) has chucked the challenge out for all of us batsmen. There are a ridiculous number of white-ball batsmen in the one-day set-up at the moment, and I just want to focus, keep working hard, and keep doing what I'm doing."